Study Shows Rising Death Rate From Ages 25-64 for People Without High School Diploma
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Reviewed By Louise Chang, MD
May 13, 2008 — College graduates are less likely to die before age 65 than their peers without high school diplomas. And that gap is widening, new research shows.
Experts from the American Cancer Society and the CDC tracked death certificate data on more than 3.5 million deaths that occurred in 43 states and Washington, D.C., from 1993 to 2001.
During that time, two trends stood out among African-American and white adults aged 25 to 64:
- Death rates fell for people with at least 16 years of education.
- Death rates rose for people with less than 12 years of education.
Those trends add up to a rapidly widening gap in the death rate for that age group, according to the findings, published in Public Library of Science One.
During 1993-2001, death rates from any cause and from cancer, heart disease, and stroke fell for people with at least 16 years of education. But those death rates held steady or rose for people with less than 12 years of education.
Education is just part of the picture. People with more education tend to have more money and other resources, including better access to medical care, and are less likely to smoke than people with less education, note the researchers, who included the American Cancer Society's Ahmedin Jemal, DVM, PhD.
In April, other researchers noted a death gap in U.S. life expectancy, especially among women. They found that for one in five U.S. women and one in 20 U.S. men, life expectancy is either sinking or stagnant.
SOURCES: Jemal, A. Public Library of Science One, May 14, 2008; vol 3. WebMD Health News: "Death Gap: Life Expectancy Falls for Some."
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